Would you believe me if I told you that a cough might to be a good thing? I know it does not seem so when you are constantly wheezing and out of breath from cough attacks and feeling lethargic.
A cough or three is a very normal thing for a person to occasionally have as it help the body expel debris, mucus and other unwanted stuff from the respiratory tract. However, it stops being healthy when a person begins to have constant severe attacks within a short time interval. That is when one knows that he has a problem.
In Nigeria, our cough season is mostly during the cold season which lasts from the end of the year to the beginning of the year. We can also get it from bacterial and viral chest infections even without the cold season. Having a raging cough can be embarrassing especially when one has to go to public areas such as school, work, gatherings etc. The most common causes of cough are:
- Irritation from pollutants in the air
- Bacterial infections such as bronchitis and sinusitis
- Viral infections like the flu
- The changing weather
- Acid reflux
- Low immunity
- Colds etc.
The cause, duration and stage of a cough determines how it should be treated. So you might ask, what if I don’t know the cause of my cough? Don’t worry! As the doctors say, if your cough persists for more than 2 weeks and it is showing no improvement despite all the home remedies you have been using, it is time to make a visit to the doctor. This is might be no ordinary cough, so be vigilant of this condition.
The remedies vary for coughs because coughing has stages and the longer you experience it, the more severe and damaging it can be on the body which is why its medication will differ e.g between early stage and late stage coughing. Unlike common cold, it is important that we remedy coughs as soon as it appears before it becomes dangerous for our health.
Types of coughs:
- Wet cough
- Dry cough
- Whopping cough
- Barking cough
- Burning cough etc.
Ginger is best used for cough while it is fresh. Dried ginger and ginger tea are also options if you do not have fresh ginger. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling and relaxes the inflamed airways making it easier to breathe and reduces throat dryness.
How to use:
- Add chopped or crushed ginger to hot water and steep
- Allow it to cool until it is warm enough to drink.
- Add some honey and lemon to increase the effectiveness of the tea.
- Sip gently until the tea is finished. The congestion in your throat will loosen and your cough will subside by then (by the grace of God).
- Some even chew on a piece of ginger throughout the day and it really helps them.
The green leaves of the spiky head of the pineapple that we often throw out is to my surprise of learning about this, very good for cough especially cough that has passed its early stage.
How to use:
- Remove the head of a medium sized pineapple and cut it to pieces.
- Place it in a pot.
- Add about a liter of water and allow it to boil.
- Allow it to cool.
- While still worm, strain the leaves and throw them out.
- Take the tea twice a day morning and evening.
Studies show that honey is not only very effective for cough and colds, it is actually a superior remedy for upper respiratory tract to usual medicines. I don’t need to spend all evening explaining the wonders and effectiveness of honey I am sure you know the uses of this gift of nature. To stay on topic, just know that honey is very effective in reducing the symptoms, severity and frequency of coughs.
It is an anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti–inflammatory food that helps fight infections and also boost the immune system. So instead of getting those cough drops from the pharmacy, how about you use a proven natural alternative to it.
How to use:
As a cough drop:
- Take a table spoon of honey or more if you wish and do not eat or drink anything else for at least an hour.
To strengthen immunity
- Take a tablespoon of honey and some warm water. Mix well and you can add some lemon if you wish.
For a dry and scratchy cough
- Take a table spoon of honey and mix it with warm water and sip gradually. Allow it to soothe the throat for about an hour before eating anything else.
Garlic is very effective in clearing infection of cough or just viral infections in the body including common cold. It is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial and anti-oxidant which is well known for its role in helping the immune system fight off infections.
The main component that we need in garlic is allicin which is the compound that gives garlic its smell and taste. Studies have shown that it boosts the of response of some white blood cells which defend the body against diseases.
How to use:
- Chop not more than 2 big pieces of garlic
- Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes so the important compounds in the garlic with be activated
- Swallow them with water.
It is best taken before a meal. Remember, garlic is a blood thinner so don’t use too much. Also, do not add the chopped garlic in your food because it will not be as effective. Trust me, I have tried that. So, eat it separately at least two hours before or after a meal.
Vitamin C is vital to the human immunity which is why when we have infections especially colds, coughs and sore throats, the doctor almost always prescribes some vitamin C tablets for the person to suck or drink. Since the body’s immunity is vital in recovering from this infection, we can make the process faster by supporting the immune system
Vitamin C is available in capsules, syrup and foods such oranges, moringa leaves, baobab fruit etc. chose your source of vitamin and be sure to include them in your treatment.
Effective cough-catarrh tea for immediate relief
- 5pcs of Garlic (not the big bulb)
- an inch of Ginger
- 4pcs of Chili Pepper (dried or fresh)
- 3pcs of African black pepper
- A tablespoon Black pepper grains or 2 teaspoon of the powder
- 1 teaspoon of Grains of paradise
- 7pcs of cloves
- Grind or pound these spices together. you can add a little water to make it mix well (2-3 tablespoons).
- Boil the spices in about a liter of water.
- Let it cool down, then sieve.
- Take a small cup of the mixture twice a day in the morning and evening after meals.
- Keep the rest in the fridge and warm it by adding hot water before taking it the following day (which means you will take more than a small cup in the following day). You can also heat it up on the stove to make it warm again.
If you are looking for the local name for these spices in Nigeria, you can find them here. The most important ingredients in this mixture is the ginger, garlic, black pepper and the cloves. Others can be skipped if you don’t have them all in the kitchen. I do advise that you make this recipe using the complete ingredients.
Using this recipe, it should clear the cough by 24 hours but continue taking this cough mixture for at least 2 days and ideally 3 days. As we know, cough and cold can be stubborn and needs to be treated efficiently.
Warm drink and teas
Avoid cold, cool and room temperature drinks, teas and if I may say water. The warm water is optional for you but if you want to get rid of this infection fast, you should switch to warm water even if it is just for a day but most of the day, you should drink warm liquids.
Soup are encouraged for coughs and flu because they help the body recover and are richer than just plain water (if you spice it and prepare it well). They help clear nasal and chest congestion and mucus becomes thinned so that it can easily drip out of the body. So keep some tissue nearby as you are enjoying your soup
Gargle with salt water
A warm salt and water solution is a very old remedy for not only coughs but also sore throat. The salt fights the bacteria in the throat and loosens the mucus which will in-turn, clear your sinuses.
Simply mix some salt with enough warm water, taste it and gargle. You can do this about three times a day or whenever the discomfort starts bothering you.
Steam bath/steam inhalation
Sometimes our throats are so uncomfortably dry and scratchy even itchy sometimes. All in all, we feel miserable. This is the time to take a very warm bath the leaves you feeling anew.
Or you can chose a better option which is steam inhalation. Boil some water, get a blanket, find somewhere you can sit comfortably. Here you will need some oil that is used for respiratory tracks. Hopefully you have some eucalyptus oil, any citrus oil, peppermint oil, mint, thyme, rosemary oil, tea tree etc. at home.
- Boil about 2 liters of water in a pot or kettle
- Transfer the water into a wide bowl or container. You can bring the pot if you want to where you are going to sit (keep the pot/bowl closed while getting the place ready).
- Put the blanket over your head and cover all possible leaks that steam can escape from.
- Open the pot or bowl and pour about 7 – 10 of the oil into the container of the hot water.
- Open your mouth and widen your nose well so that the steam and all the goodies in the oil that will make you feel and breathe better will do their work.
- You can close you eyes if it is more comfortable for you.
- Sit like this inside the blanket for about 10-15 minutes or until the water cools down.
I am sure you will be feeling better than before you did the steam bath. This method always works for me and those around me though it does not have the most pleasant experience.
I believe if you follow these remedies well, you will be rid of cough and colds in a few day or less than a week. If it still persists or is only getting worse despite your efforts with the home remedy, see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember, a cough is a reaction to an infection most of the time and the body needs time to get through this attack so you need to be a little patient as the body has to go through some stages before it can finally defeat the infection.
Remember it is best to take cough especially seriously from the moment it appears because it can deteriorate into another health problem where simple home remedies will not be effective. then, you will have to use a more potent medicine to get cured.
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Have a nice day!